Update on the Afghan Refugee Assistance Program

Temple Beth Am, in partnership with Jewish Community Services of South Florida, is sponsoring two Afghan refugee families. As the United States withdrew in 2021 from Afghanistan, many families who worked by our side during our tenure there also departed to come to our shores.

Our two families arrived in our community in January 2022 and, while currently in temporary housing, will move to more permanent apartments shortly. Many of our congregants have had the pleasure of welcoming them from the airport and have spent time helping them to get settled. While JCS is responsible for “Case Management” (obtaining Social Security numbers, work permits and other benefits they are afforded), TBAM volunteers are helping them navigate our community, and provide for basic social and physical needs.

The Torah instructs us 36 times to care for the stranger — far more than it commands us to observe any other law. This takes on additional urgency during life-saving moments, such as the opportunities before us to provide supportive services to Afghan refugees, families who are now setting up homes and lives in Miami. Our own Jewish people’s history as “strangers” reminds us of the many struggles faced by immigrants today, and we affirm our commitment to create the same opportunities for today’s immigrants that were so valuable to our own community not so many years ago.

About the Families

We cannot wait to formally introduce these wonderful folks to our TBAM community. They left their country under harrowing circumstances — leaving everything behind — and are so thankful for our support. We have been asked to not publish names and pictures for now, but let us tell you about our “adopted” families:

Family “A” consists of: father, mother, two daughters (ages 5 and 10), and three sons (9, 13 and 17). They lived in Kabul and speak a little English.

Family “R” consists of: father, mother, one daughter (age 3), and two sons (4 and 15). Mrs. “R” is about four months pregnant. They lived in Kabul and speak English well.

What’s Next?

Many of you already have volunteered to assist with needed items and funding. Background screening is required for in-person visits with the families. As we assess the needs of the families, there will be other opportunities to participate and we will make them known to anyone who is interested.

TBAM and our Tikkun Olam committee have set up an Afghan refugee resettlement fund and monetary donations are appreciated. [See link above to donate] We also will continue to work with the Refugee Assistance Alliance, and through them, a volunteer and acculturation training program is being scheduled for the middle of February — we will forward the registration information to those who are interested as soon as it is available. If you are interested, contact one of the individuals listed below.

JCS also has set up an Amazon Wish List where you may purchase online items to assist in the Afghan refugee resettlement.

If want to be part of this wonderful Tikkun Olam activity, or if you simply have questions and suggestions, please contact Ilene Kossman, [email protected], Mark Buchbinder, [email protected], or Rabbi Rachel Greengrass, [email protected].

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